Former NBA Player Pleads Guilty to Defrauding NBA in Health Insurance Fraud Case
A former NBA player is pleading guilty to health insurance fraud.
Terrence Deshon Williams, a 35-year-old former NBA player who was once known for his slam dunking ability and his collection of Air Jordans, has pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni to leading a scheme to defraud the National Basketball Association Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan.
For the 2008-2009 season Williams was the much heralded senior co-captain of the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball team under the direction of Rick Pitino. In a “USA Today” article from October 25, 2007 by Lindsey Willhite entitled “Williams, Louisville won’t sneak up on opponents,” Rick Pitino said, of Williams, “He’s very talented. He’s a freakish athlete.”
Among the teams for which Williams played were the New Jersey Nets, the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Boston Celtics.
Williams pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He could face up to twenty-two years in prison.
On August 26, 2022 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “Williams led a scheme involving more than 18 former NBA players, a dentist, a doctor, and a chiropractor, to defraud the NBA Players’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan of millions of dollars. Williams also impersonated others to help him take what was not his—money that belonged to the Plan.”
Sentencing is scheduled to take place on January 25, 2023.
In addition to Damian Williams, the United States Department of Justice’s investigation team included representatives from the office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and included prosecution team members Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan B. Finkel and Daniel G. Nessim.
The prosecution team alleged that Williams, who now lives in Seattle, Washington, orchestrated the plan that included more than a dozen other people. Those accused, which include a dentist in California and a doctor in Washington, allegedly created and sent false invoices to defraud the NBA’s healthcare plan of approximately five million dollars between 2017 and 2021.
In a written release the U.S. Attorney’s office says that Williams created fraudulent invoices and letters of medical necessity authorizing medical services in exchange for kickbacks of at least $300,000. Investigators say that some of those letters looked unusual from the beginning of the investigation, and many were not on letterhead from the medical offices from which they were purported to have originated.
In addition to the fraudulent letters, investigators said that Terrence Williams impersonated other people, pretending to be employees of the health plan’s administrative manager, even creating an e-mail account for one employee. Through e-mail he allegedly threatened others, including at least one co-defendant. Prosecutors say Williams received approximately $346,000 from a co-defendant.
U.S. Attorney Williams says that Terrence Williams texted threats to a witness while he was on pre-trial release after being initially charged and arrested in this case. In the release the prosecution alleges that the threats to the witness included “that the witness was “talking way to[o] f[---]ing much,” to “shut the f[--]k up,” and “me spitting in your face is exactly what you’ll see.” Following a motion by the Government on May 6, 2022, as a result of this obstructive conduct, Judge Caproni remanded Williams.”
As part of the plea Williams agreed to pay $2,500,000 restitution to the health plan and forfeit $653,672.55 to the United States.